Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Brussels Sprouts and Carrots with Pancetta & Chestnuts

Well, this recipe is my own creation and I put it together because I needed something really inventive to take to my brother's house for Thanksgiving dinner. I wonder what every one will think of it...Will they like it? I myself like the combination of Brussels sprouts and carrots. They look really pretty together, they have an inherent affinity for each other, they whisper winter, winter, as they are being cooked. Chestnuts are an appropriate addition to the holiday table and pancetta buzzes around the whole dish, teasing the tongue. That should make for a very pleasant experience. To make this dish you will need:

2 medium shallots, chopped
1 lb carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 lb Brussels sprouts, cut in half lenghwise, stems trimmed
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 lb pancetta cut into small pieces (remember to remove the rind)
1 lb chestnuts
1 & 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
5 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon canola oil


Score the side of each chestnut with a knife. Drop the scored chestnuts in hot water and boil them until they are soft. Do not over cook them. If you do,  they'll have a floury consistency, and you don't want that. Drain the water, and when the chestnuts are cool enough to handle, peel them. The outer husk is easy to remove when the chestnuts are cooked. However, chestnuts have an inner thinner and somewhat fuzzy skin which must also be removed. It tends to adhere to the seed, so make sure you peel it off, because it has a bitter taste. To prepare the chestnuts requires a bit of labor, so if you can find them in a jar go ahead and use them. The problem is that it is not easy to find jarred chestnuts.

Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter and add the shallots, sauteing them until they are soft, about one minute.

Add the carrots, Brussels sprouts and the black pepper and cook stirring until the vegetables begin to brown a bit. This should take about 3 minutes.

Add one cup of chicken broth and simmer for about ten minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Stir in 2 tablespoons of butter, half of the parsley and the the vinegar.

Meanwhile cook the pancetta in the canola oil until it is crisp. Make sure it does not become burned or dried out. Drain it on paper towels.  Saute the chestnuts in the remaining two tablespoons of butter for about 2  or 3 minutes.  Add the chestnuts and pancetta into the carrots and Brussels sprouts.  Fold in gently.

Check the seasonings and correct them if needed. Pour the vegetables into a nice serving dish, and sprinkle them with the remaining parsley before bringing them to the table.

All right, get ready, here's the decision about how this tasted: pretty good! Sauteing the vegetables and cooking them in broth and butter gives them a great taste. So, if you like your vegetables, you will like it. If you are not a fan of Brussels sprouts or carrots, as two or three people sitting at the Thanksgiving table were not, you will pass the dish on to the person next to you. Some people had seconds, and a relative took the bit that was left over home, for the next day's lunch. On the other hand, another relative, Joe, who hates carrots, did not care for this dish.  Joe just helped himself to more mashed potatoes.
I didn't get to take all the pictures I wanted to, but I hopefully, next time I make this dish I'll have more time to use the camera. 

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